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InsurTech Spotlight with Renaud Million

Welcome to the ABI InsurTech Spotlight, Week 9. Each week I’ll be putting questions to one of the movers and shakers of the UK InsurTech arena – the leaders of exciting InsurTech businesses, InsurTech and innovation leaders within ABI members companies, InsurTech experts, commentators and investors. This week we talk to Renaud Million, Co-founder and CEO of SPIXII.

Renaud Million

Hey Renaud, could you tell us in one sentence what SPIXII is all about?

Hey Matt, sure! SPIXII helps more people get better protected, by building chatbot technology for the insurance industry.

You’ve been through actuarial training, so what led to you ditching that career path for InsurTech? Does your actuarial training help a lot with what you’re doing now?

Well I’m only a part-qualified actuary! I sat all the exams but failed the last ones - I still need to finish them! While training to be an actuary at EY in London, I realised my passion lay in business development. I love building relationships with people while operating in a technical environment.

Matt Cullen

I don’t think I ditched my actuarial background. Rather, I extended it with a non-traditional directory. As a start-up, it’s crucial we are fluent in technology as well as the language of insurance firms, reinsurers and brokers. The actuarial profession laid this professional groundwork in place. Values like integrity, competence and attention to detail are at the heart of the way we communicate with new and existing clients.

You’ve been one of the InsurTech firms that’s had more media prominence than most over the last couple of years. Has that been a conscious plan, and has it been beneficial during the early stages of the business? 

It was definitely beneficial. We’ve been fortunate to attract interest from day one, and still to be continuing many of those conversations today. Hopefully, we can get more young people talking about insurance. The more we can understand their needs and challenges, the more we can develop our technology around them and other insurance customers.

 

 

A key factor to our media presence has undoubtedly been the acceleration programmes that we’ve been involved in. Since starting SPIXII, we’ve joined six acceleration programmes. In each one, we’ve presented in front of journalists, from trade press to general finance.

I always come back to this quote from the philosopher, Seneca: “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. That’s definitely true - not only when it comes to getting press attention, but also in life and business. 

You give a lot of profile to your ‘SPIXII bot’, even listing it as a team member on your website. Do you think chatbots will become the norm for buying insurance and engaging with insurers in the coming years?

Yes! If the SPIXII team is like a family, then the SPIXII bot has to be up there.

I think chatbots will almost certainly become the norm in insurance. Right now, messaging on Whatsapp or Messenger is a part of our day-to-day lives. It’s all about bringing this personal, intuitive way of communicating to insurance, which might otherwise seem inaccessible.

Traditionally, you would buy insurance after talking to an insurance professional. They would fill out a form and send it to the insurance company.

When the digital transformation began in the 1980s, a digital form replaced this paperwork. You could skip the broker and go directly to the company website. If you wanted to find out more, you would have to call and wait on hold.

Now, you can engage with your insurer through the chatbot in a way that’s personal and professional. Chatbots have been proven to convert more than an online form, for a fraction of the cost. It doesn’t replace any jobs but can be used to automate routine tasks, such as updating a policy - giving the already time-strapped customer service team more time. Some customers will prefer to talk to someone over the phone, yet more and more we’re seeing people wanting a 24/7, quick and convenient service.

Talk to us about some of the key technical challenges you’ve faced in developing the SPIXII bot.

One of the key technical challenges was realising that an intelligently designed chatbot was not enough. After talking to insurance customers about their experiences, and shaping our product around them, we then spoke to insurance firms about their challenges.

GDPR is coming next year (2018). We’re working to support insurance companies build processes to prepare for the new regulatory changes. A part of this is to ensure the chatbot is fully compliant, and demonstrates a distinction between a non-advised and advised sale.

A new product is now in the pipeline. I can’t say too much about it now, but what I can say is this. We want the insurance firm’s underwriting and regulatory team to be completely comfortable with our technology, and for the customer to trust the chatbot as a way of communicating. This tool will help with both, and is set to launch at the start of next year.

What would you expect to have achieved with SPIXII in a year’s time?

We’re constantly looking for innovative ways of developing our technology to suit both the customer and insurance company. In the next year, I’d expect to grow the SPIXII family to continue to give our clients the best possible value.

Recruiting has its challenges, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. We started SPIXII by laying out our mission and values, and these have become the foundation of the company. We're currently looking for individuals who are self-starters - motivated, with a passion for what they do, plus a constant curiosity and entrepreneurship.

The same goes for insurance companies. Collaboration is all about putting people first, before even thinking about technology. This year, we’ve partnered with a leading UK insurer and a leading consumer brand - one of the first to bring this new technology to their customers.

I’d love to see this inspire more collaboration between insurance companies and startups. There is so much technology out there - it’s just a case of working together to tap its potential.

And finally what about you – could you tell our audience something interesting or surprising about you?

I’m mad about running! During the week, it’s usually from meeting to meeting - then at the weekend, I love getting to choose the track and go trail running.

We’re never quite ready for the race. Just like challenges at work, running means pushing through our limits to see what we can achieve.


Last updated 19/10/2017